Wednesday, November 17, 2010

IMPPS Research Coordinated Network

Before it gets pushed back too far in my memory, I wanted to spend a little time talking about my weekend sitting in with my adviser's research coordinated network (RCN), IMPPS. IMPPS stands for Integrating Macroecological Pattern and Processes across Scales. I could spend an entire post trying to define what exactly that all means, but essentially they are interested in large scale patterns across life that can be described fairly succinctly. Their focus is on body size: how it has changed through time and how physiological constraints on body size have shaped evolution, with an emphasis on mammalian evolution.

I did a lot of intensive listening all weekend which, surprisingly, took a lot out of me. It was interesting to see how a large research group functions, since that is something I have never participated in. The group publishes a lot together, but there are also small sub-projects within the group. I was impressed at how much got done over a few short days. This is a very productive group of scientists.

I can't say for sure if I will be collaborating with them in the future. Their NSF funding is running out, and they only have a few more meetings in the future. I'm also not sure that I am interested in all of the same research questions that they are; but, there are a few. I did a little data mining this weekend for a fairly new project, and if I get sucked into that it could result in something good for me. Felisa said I was welcome to get as involved as I wanted with the group, if it was something I felt I wanted to do. I think the project I was helping with sounded interesting, but I'll need to learn more about it before I get myself invested in it.

In general I like the members of the group. I have some disagreements with some of the opinions that I heard this weekend, but that isn't a bad thing. That's just something that naturally occurs. I don't think I'm going to agree with Felisa or Jim or anyone on everything; that wasn't even the case with Russ. I think it's important that everyone in the group enjoys working together; they are friendly. That makes it possible to actually accomplish things.

On Saturday evening we had a fancy pizza party at Felisa's house. It was make your own pizza: home made dough, interesting toppings, and lots of wine followed by dessert. It was good way to break up the hard work of the weekend. Plus, I can only listen to work related things for so long before I get burnt out.

In conclusion, I would say that it was a generally good experience and I'm glad I went. I also got to hang out with Meghan a lot, and I got to know her better.

Tomorrow the lab group is leaving for Death Valley for a few days. When I return I will give my account of that little adventure.

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